The Allahabad High Court has sought a counter affidavit on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting malnutrition among the children of several villages in Varanasi district. A division bench of Justice Arun Tandon and Justice Ashok Kumar, in its order dated June 20, directed the Varanasi district magistrate to file his reply on a PIL filed by the Jan Adhikar Manch, an NGO.
In the petition, the NGO has claimed that following media reports about malnutrition among the children of Harhua block in the district, it had sent a fact-finding team to five villages between May and June and the team confirmed that at least 22 children were malnourished, three of them acutely.
It has also alleged that some of these children remained malnourished, despite having undergone treatment at a malnutrition rehabilitation centre in Varanasi city since they did not get nutritious food, including a certain quantity of desi ghee once daily, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the state’s Directorate of Child Development Service and Nutrition.
The NGO has prayed for directions to the district magistrate to “ensure the daily and uninterrupted supply of nutritious food to the 22 malnourished children” and to “monitor its implementation on a monthly basis”.
The petitioner has also prayed for directions for “constitution of different teams in all the eight blocks of Varanasi district to identify the malnourished children in all the villages”, so that medicines and nutrition could be provided to them. The petitioner has also appended photographs of some of the malnourished children in the age group of one to six years. Directing the Varanasi district magistrate to file a counter affidavit, the court has fixed July 4 as the next date of hearing in the matter.
Varanasi, known all over the world over since ancient times as a centre of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists and famous for its silk sarees, has been in the limelight of late as it is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.